Sheffield Steeldogs found themselves in the familiar territory of one win and one loss over a weekend with Saturday’s win over the Manchester Phoenix being the highlight before a narrow loss in Peterborough on Sunday.
Phoenix had been convincing winners in the only other game between the sides this season and when Stanislav Gron put them 2-0 up in the 27th minute you might have thought events were repeating themselves.
However Ashley Calvert scored for the Dogs 30 seconds later to reflect their efforts more fairly on the scoreboard.
The second period has been something of a problem for the Steeldogs this year but with all three lines applying pressure, Manchester were really under the cosh and in the last couple of minutes it paid off.
A delayed penalty created a chance to add Lubomir Korhon as an extra attacking option and after patience waiting for a space, Liam Charnock provided the Czech sniper with a perfect pass to score the equaliser. The Phoenix might have been looking forward to the break but the Steeldogs pounced again; Korhon notching his second of the night.
Tony Hand’s side didn’t fold and Dalibor Sedlar faced waves of attacks and kept out all 23 shots on his goal in the 3rdperiod. Despite the onslaught, the Steeldogs seemed very focused and when a late power play opportunity arose, Korhon topped off a great performance with his hat-trick strike.
A final score of 4-2 giving rookie coach Greg Wood a first win over the coach he had played under in Manchester.
Speaking after the game, player/coach Wood was pleased; “Our performance was really good tonight, as soon as they started to tire we started to turn the screw. By the end of the game there was only going to be one team in it. Beating the Phoenix is so important because they are a team we are going to be battling with all season. We lost at their place earlier in the season and it was important that we didn’t go two games behind them.
"There are 3 or 4 teams that are around us, almost like a mini league and we need to be winning those games.
“We were able to field three full lines and our secondary scoring was a key part of our success. The guys are really stepping up their level of performance. Manchester are a skilled team but they rely heavily on their imports, we did a good job neutralising their threat with everyone contributing”.
Sunday in Peterborough saw an improved road performance from the Steeldogs after poor showings at Telford and Basingstoke. Goals from Calvert and Lascek had the Phantoms chasing the game at times early on.
However another second period slump cost them the game; Phantoms scoring four goals in just over six minutes to knock the stuffing out of the Dogs. A late revival had he home team sweating but an empty net marker gave them a deserved 6-4 win.
Coach Wood was clear about where the game was lost; “It’s getting frustrating leaving things until the last few minutes of a game. In the first period we could have been 2 or 3 goals up, we had a couple of two on ones and you have to take those chances especially in a barn like Peterborough - if not you’ll regret it later on.
"We had to work hard to pull the game back at the end, and then they got the empty net goal. We keep talking about the middle period slump and we focussed on that against Manchester and then it happened again today. That’s something we have to address in training”.
Next home game – Saturday November 21st vs. Telford Tigers